Friday, April 24, 2009

FOOTHILL RANCH, Calif., April 17, 2009 – With just over two weeks remaining until the Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge series hits Port Alfred May 1-3, a host of South Africa’s best young surfers have secured their entries into this prestigious junior event. The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Grade-2 Junior Men’s division has 36 confirmed entrants, with a roster that reads like a showcase of the future of South African surfing.

“The on form surfers at the moment are Shaun Joubert, Chad du Toit, Nick Godfrey and Klee Strachan,” said ASP World Tour campaigner and Oakley Surf Marketing Manager Greg Emslie. “But with the many other talented juniors out there, these guys will have to push their limits if they want to take the title this year.”

The ASP Grade-1 Junior Women’s division has also seen a slew of entries from the country’s top up and coming female surf stars. In addition to the substantial prize money on offer to the winner, the Oakley Pro Junior serves as the first of two counting events to select which female will represent South Africa at the World Pro Junior Championships in Australia.

Shaun Joubert : photo Kolesky/SanDisk

Shaun Joubert : photo Kolesky/SanDisk

“We are very proud and excited to announce that for the first time the Oakley Pro Junior will include a girl’s division,” said Oakley Brand Marketing Manager Tracy Degoumois. “Oakley South Africa has recognized and identified a wealth of talent within South African junior girl surfers and would like to recognize and support these girls in the progressive sport that is defining women’s surfing today. We are looking very forward to watching these girls surf in Port Alfred and giving them the recognition they deserve.

Leading the charge will be 15-year-old Sarah Baum (Durban), who enters the event fresh off a strong showing at the recent ISA World Junior Surfing Championships in Ecuador, with second-seeded 19-year-old Chantelle Rautenbach (Cape Town) hot on her heels.

“I think it’s great,” said multiple junior SA Champion Rautenbach, when asked about competing in the first ASP-sanctioned Pro Junior Women’s event in the history of South African surfing. “I’m really stoked to be a part of it. I’m always stoked to be a part of someone or some sponsor supporting surfing – let alone girls surfing in South Africa! I love Port Alfred and I have surfed there a bunch of times. I really enjoy it and I think it’s an under-rated spot.”

“Having the Oakley Pro Junior in Port Alfred is so good,” said East London’s Alice McGregor, former under-16 SA Champion and third seed of the event, “that place really does go off a lot! We have surfed previous events there and scored waves. I like East Beach a lot. It is a lot like the waves in East London but I would say a bit more challenging.”

“I think it is really cool that Oakley is hosting this event,” added McGregor, who will be competing along with her twin sister Laurie. “We are lacking good women’s events in South Africa and it is about time that more events are put onto the calendar. It’s really great that Oakley is recognizing girls in surfing now!”

The Oakley Pro Junior has already attracted the best young female talent from around the country, with other confirmed entrants including SA Junior team member Tanika Hoffman (Cape Town), Bluff surfer Heidi Palmboom and Port Elizabeth rising star Faye Zoetmulder.

In addition to the Junior Men’s and Junior Women’s main events will be the Red Bull Air Show, now in the second year of running in conjunction with the Oakley Pro Junior. The Red Bull Air Show offers healthy cash prizes for first, second and third place, awarded to the surfers who are judged to have successfully landed the highest and most radical aerial maneuvers.

“What’s cool is that we’re holding two semis and a final – spread over the whole contest – which will hopefully encourage the surfers to do that kind of expressive surfing in their main event heats as well,” said Greg Emslie.

“It’s going to be in their minds all the time, and that’s going to make the whole thing bigger and better. The guys who win the contest and the guys who do the big airs and the biggest maneuvers will go to Bali [for the Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge] and do the same kind of moves over there, and hopefully we’ll see a South African winner in grand final!”

Last year’s Red Bull Air Show winner was Bluff surfer and Red Bull team rider Rudy Palmboom, who has now taken his explosive approach to surfing to the international stage, competing around the globe in the World Qualifying Series.

The Red Bull Air Show will be held on each day of the Oakley Pro Junior main event. One heat of ten surfers will be held during the first two days of the event, with the top five aerialists from each heat advancing to Sunday. The Red Bull Air Show final is scheduled to be run just before the Oakley Pro Junior final on Sunday 3 May.

The Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge also hits North America April 28 to May 2, 2009 in conjunction with the 6.0 Lowers Pro, WQS 6-Star PRIME, at Lower Trestles, San Clemente, Calif. The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Grade-2 Pro Junior event will have a $10,000 prize purse and serve as the only U.S. qualifier for the final event of the Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge.

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